Skoda has refreshed its latest Octavia estate for 2017. So, what has changed for the competitively-priced family car?
Well, there are some tweaks to the exterior design, most noticeably the new split headlights which are reminiscent of the Skoda Kodiaq SUV. Other design changes both outside and inside are very subtle, but the refreshed Octavia does get new in-car tech and safety kit.
While the main mechanical parts of the Octavia estate are unchanged, it still remains well placed to be one of the most practical and value for money estate cars around.
The Octavia estate range includes a couple of petrol and diesel engines, but if you go for the SE Technology trim like our test car came in, then only the diesels are available. Mind you, the diesel engines are by far the more popular engines among Octavia drivers.
The diesels include the 2.0-litre TDI with 148bhp or the engine we tested, the 1.6-litre TDI with 113bhp, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox as standard but also available with a DSG automatic ‘box.
Pace from this engine is nothing spectacular but does a reasonable job hauling the sizeable Octavia along. The 0-62mph sprint is covered in 10.2 seconds. There’s a decent amount of low-end torque to make pulling away from lights, junctions etc. a straightforward task, but more aggressive accelerating may be needed to deal with uphill sections or overtaking.
Even in these situations though the car does benefit from a slick manual gear change, but the 2.0-litre TDI is noticeably more flexible because of its extra power and use of a six-speed manual gearbox.
Ride and Handling
Comfort is usually the main thing you want from an estate car’s driving experience and the Octavia estate does deliver in this regard. It feels perfectly suited to long motorway trips and the suspension does well absorbing all but the nastiest of bumps and potholes encountered.
The driving dynamics are not so spectacular though when dealing with twisty, high-speed corners. There’s a decent amount of grip from the car and the steering is precise, but there is an artificial feel to the latter and the size and weight of this estate does become very noticeable when tackling tight turns.
It’s not the most dynamic estate in its class then, and you’ll rarely have the urge to drive in a particularly enthusiastic demeanour. But if you’re just concerned with getting from A to B in a comfortable, non-fussy manner, then the Octavia estate should do a solid job.
The expanded safety kit list includes adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking with added pedestrian detection, blind spot warning and rear traffic detection alert.
Interior and Equipment
The Skoda Octavia is known for giving you a lot of car for your money, and that reputation especially applies to the estate version.
Head and legroom is generous for front passengers - and up to three in the back - and the boot is huge too, offering 610 litres as standard. That figure comfortably trounces the standard boot space of many rivals including those from the likes of Ford, Vauxhall and Renault. Only the likes of the Volkswagen Golf estate and Peugeot 308 SW can offer similar or superior boot space.
The Octavia estate’s load capacity can also go up to an enormous 1,740 litres if you fold the rear seats.
Presentation-wise, the interior of the Octavia estate is not exactly a feast for the eyes, but it sports well laid out and solidly built controls and materials.
The fresh onboard infotainment system has a slick eight-inch touchscreen as standard, and because we drove the SE Technology trim (which sits above S and SE and below SE L and L&K), the device also comes with sat-nav as standard too.
If you want, you can now upgrade the touchscreen to one that is 9.2-inch in size, but you’ll have to spend just over a grand extra for this.
The SE Technology version of the Octavia also comes with cruise control, Bluetooth, DAB radio, dual-zone air-con, Wi-fi hotspot and SmartLink+ with smartphone apps support.
The Skoda Octavia estate starts from £18,395 in its standard S trim, while the SE Technology version begins at £21,790. That pricing is similar or in some cases cheaper than similar-sized estates with a similar equipment line-up.
The 1.6-litre diesel is the most frugal engine in the Octavia estate range, recording 68.9mpg combined and a CO2 output of just 106g/km. While those figures are impressive, they are only slightly ahead of the more powerful 2.0-litre diesel which records 65.7mpg combined and emits 113g/km.
Options of potential interest, including a space saver spare wheel, a heated windscreen and a panoramic electric sunroof, cost £100, £300 and £1,150 respectively.
While there aren’t a huge number of changes for the Octavia estate this year, the Skoda still feels fresh enough and it remains one of the most practical and value for money cars in its class.
Some alternatives, like the Megane Sport Tourer or Focus, could be considered more appealing because of their driving dynamics, but the Octavia is comfortable, offers decent running costs and has an impressively versatile cabin.
If you can spare an extra grand, we’d recommend the more powerful 2.0-litre TDI ahead of the 1.6-litre unit, but the latter does have respectable performance and has that extra bit of frugality.